Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Unemployed citizens struggle to get the COVID grant

Tshepo Arthur Mmusi
Klerksdorp, Jouberton Township
27 June 2020

When the president announced that the government will be assisting unemployed citizens of the country with R350 Covid 19 relief of distress grant during the lockdown period everyone welcomed the idea and there was excitement because for the first time in South Africa, the unemployed people are benefiting from the country’s GDP.

The manner in which the system has been designed has left many South Africans frustrated because it made it difficult for people to access such relief funds. People were advised to apply for funds using their cell phones in a form of sending sms’s, others using WhatsApp and others having to send via email. Firstly the way it has been designed, it disadvantaged people who do not have cell phones, and those who have no smart phones. It also challenged those who do not have email accounts let alone have knowledge to operate a computer. Remember that the grant is intended for unemployed individuals who have no any means of resources at their disposal. When applying, one has to follow prompts instructions which guide you as to enable you to put in your application, and it has options where you apply for yourself or for someone else. To date many people have sent in their applications and yet did not receive their payments from SASSA. Another stumbling block is when SASSA finally approves your application and require beneficiary’s banking details. Many unemployed people have no bank accounts and in order for them to have them they need to apply and that requires them to have a minimum of R50 that they don’t have. This leaves them frustrated and the system cannot catch up if they are unable to provide banking details because they struggle to get accounts. As a result they queue up at post offices hoping to be assisted there, only to find that people who should be queueing at the post offices are those who received SMS messages instructing them to get their money at post offices. They end up asking the wrong people questions that they cannot answer. Meanwhile when you visit local SASSA offices you find their Gates locked with huge pad locks and their officials just sitting drinking tea the whole day doing nothing. The toll free number that is meant for enquiries for such matters is useless to desperate beneficiaries as the call centre receive high volumes of calls and complaints as is a national call centre